In front of a sell-out crowd Orlando City SC (15-0-3, 48 points) secured a crucial point on the road against Sacramento Republic FC (10-6-4, 34 points) at Bonney Stadium. The 0-0 draw against Republic FC extends City’s impressive USL PRO unbeaten run to 18 games.
Without Head Coach Adrian Heath, who is currently in Portugal for meetings with Benfica, tonight’s match also marked Assistant Coach Ian Fuller’s first game in charge in 2014.
The first half featured a high tempo affair as both sides looked eager to jump on the score-sheet. With the home crowd behind them, Sacramento created a few dangerous chances early on via Klimenta and Alvarez, but Gallardo and the City defense were able to capably sustain the pressure.
Orlando’s first real chance didn’t come until the 14th minute. A quick counter-attack by the Lions led to crafty combination play on the edge of the area, springing Adama Mbengue into the box with space. Mbengue had a good look at the goal but hit his effort just wide of the target.
In the 24th minute, a deep corner from Ceren was headed back across into the danger area by Span. Sacramento managed to clear the danger but Orlando looked threatening on the set piece as they continued to push forward for the opening goal. Some of City’s best chances in the first half came from corners and free-kicks, including a header from Rob Valentino early on that put Glesson on alert.
Deep into stoppage time, Sacramento produced good build-up play on another counter-attack, leading to a quality opportunity for Alvarez from 15 yards away. Alvarez hit a low driven effort that looked destined for the bottom corner, but Gallardo made a crucial save to maintain a clean-sheet heading into halftime.
The second 45 was similar to the first half in the sense that both sides weren’t shy to go forward, creating a very open an intense match.
City opened the second half with a strong chance that forced Gleeson to make a tough save in the 52nd minute to keep Sacramento on level terms with the league-leaders. After a bit of trickery on the far left-side, Luke Boden crossed the ball to the back-post for Dennis Chin who nodded a strong and low effort on target, but the ‘keeper was able to make the vital save.
In the 79th minute, things took a turn for the worse for Sacramento when Max Alvarez was sent off for a high arm on City Midfielder Aodhan Quinn. With the west coast club reduced to ten men, Orlando’s overwhelming possession began creating more fruitful opportunities, putting Glesson and the Republic FC defense under immense pressure.
Fortunately for Sacramento, key saves from Gleeson and well-timed tackles from Sacramento’s defense kept the Lions off the score-sheet. The 0-0 draw on the road in front of a sell-out crowd is a positive result for Orlando City, in comparison to Sacramento who needs every point possible to cover ground in the USL PRO Regular Season title race.
Orlando quest to finish the season with an unblemished record continues with another road match on July 27. City plays the Rochester Rhinos at Sahlen Stadium before returning home for a fixture against the Charlotte Eagles on August 2.